Private Air Charters Spike as Coronavirus Spreads

The commercial airline market has been one of COVID-19’s biggest business casualties Large flight cancelations in Europe and the risk of contamination in the US have disrupted commercial air travel in recent weeks. For example, German carrier Lufthansa said it could cancel up to half of its flights and ground all of its Airbus A380 superjumbo jets due to the fall in bookings.

In comparison, private air charter companies on both sides of the Atlantic have seen significant increases in the business. Most of those changes stem from coronavirus evacuations from affected countries such as Italy. In the US, most families and corporate passengers use the charter as a way of avoiding commercial airlines.

Therefore, operators are taking stronger measures to sanitize the planes. “We’ve implemented the highest level of sanitization,” says Southern Jet owner Jerod Davis. That means “disinfecting the airplanes, even though that may not yet be required. We take an extra half hour to an hour[ after each flight] just to really clean the plane down. Then we’re going to also detail the airplane on a regular basis, just to be ahead of the game.”

It will take time to see if the coronavirus will be a temporary phenomenon or a long-term reality — and its effect on the private charter. “The best-case scenario is it’s a scare says Davis. We don’t want this to get worse … But this is a strange situation. Something like this we never anticipated. ‘

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